Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SPS Adoption 8 questions

Dear Seattle School Director, 3-25-2009

Fundamental questions that must be considered in the math adoption:

1. Are the WA state k-12 math standards the SPS curriculum?

2. Is the SPS interested in involving parents in the educational process of their children's learning of mathematics?

3. What happens to students with below grade level math skills entering high school?

4. Will the board be duped by cherry picked data presented by the Central Administration and promises that will not be fulfilled?

5. Will the board believe statements made by the Central Administration that are incorrect?

6. Is the board interested in improving the focus of the entire k-12 math curriculum or continuing the extended decade of SPS math disaster?

7. Is the board interested in picking materials that will allow top students a better chance for success in STEM fields in college?

8. Does the board intend to further advance inquiry based instruction that supports the SPS math definition or instead provide students with the math skills needed to become carpenters, electricians, accountants, engineers, medical professionals, etc.?

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1. Are the WA state k-12 math standards the SPS curriculum?

I believe these should but the curricula but currently this is not the case. Look no further than the Everyday math pacing plan and the neglect of the Math Grade level performance expectations. “Discovering” avoids “Authentic Algebra” and the manipulation skills and associated thinking that will be needed on an End of Course assessment for Algebra that will replace the WASL.

2. Is the SPS interested in involving parents in the educational process of their children’s learning of mathematics?

The Administration talks about the necessity of home involvement in the educational process. Is adopting a book that is unusable by parents as a resource in keeping with the rhetoric? Clear example based instruction has shown its superiority over the NSF funded nonsense that Dr. Bergeson pushed upon us for a decade. Compare Prentice Hall with “Discovering”. If you were a parent or a student who had been absent, which would you choose?


3. What happens to students with below grade level skills entering high school?

Looks like the Administration has ignored this fact that around 50% of students entering grade 9 need extensive remediation. There is no plan with “Discovering”. Perhaps remediation will be conducted by the community colleges four years later. Prentice Hall provides a complete program. The PH materials are recommended by the State as instructional materials for grades 6,7,8. Those grade levels are where about 50% of SPS entering freshmen operate when it comes to math. A PH adoption gives the district a cohesive and coherent program to deal with years of neglect from the failure to implement effective interventions for students not acquiring the grade level necessary skills.

4. Will the board be duped by cherry picked data presented by the Central Administration and promises that will not be fulfilled?
and

5. Will the board believe statements made by the Central Administration that are incorrect?

At the Everyday math adoption the administration presented data from a regular program using Everyday math and from a district using it with their Special Education students. These were presented in such a way that most board members thought they were observing random samples. In fact these were “Cherry Picked” the regular district program results presented and the special education results were both from among the best that could be found in the state. The Special Education results were from Central Valley in Spokane had the administration presented the regular ed data from CV it would have been a much different picture. I would definitely do research on any data presented by the administration.

On May 16, 2007 Ms. Santorno assured the board that should the WA Math standards change EDM could be easily adapted … but that has yet to happen. We certainly do not need to rehash the Singapore Math fakery from May 2007. Any math statements and promises need to be fully recorded and perhaps everyone could be held accountable.

Take a good look at the talk about professional development and its effectiveness. Look at the spending on Professional Development that went with the EDM adoption. Look at the large increase in instructional time that took place with the EDM implementation. I can find nothing that indicates this professional development was effective. It is time to adopt effective and efficient materials and stop giving credibility to fairytales.

Where is that PSAT data? PSAT given in November and where are the results?


6. Is the board interested in improving the focus of the entire k-12 curriculum or continuing the extended decade of SPS math disaster?

This adoption gives the board an opportunity to shift the program to the NMAP recommended example based instruction by selecting a book series with clear examples and definitions. Please select a mathematically sound text that can easily be used by parents and students. If “Discovering” is adopted it indicates a vote for the same type of ineffective materials that have been in use over the last decade.

A survey of recent high school graduates entering SCCC found 50% unable to place into a math course above the equivalent of 9th grade high school math. For those students a high school experience left them with 8th grade math skills or worse.

7. Is the board interested in picking materials that will allow top students a chance for better success in STEM fields in college?

There is now ample research that demonstrates that Core-Plus and IMP severely limit a student’s opportunity in college to be successful in pursuit of a STEM field degree. You have the opportunity to select PH. A text series much better than most commercially prepared curricula. There is no reason to continue with substandard NSF funded curricula.

8. Does the board intend to further advance inquiry based instruction that supports the SPS math definition or instead provide students with the math skills needed to become carpenters, electricians, accountants, engineers, medical professionals, etc.?

Given current economic conditions it would be incredibly irresponsible to continue with the ineffective and inefficient Exploration and Inquiry model used by the “Discovering Series”. Please adopt Prentice Hall materials.

Sincerely,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

4 comments:

MagnoliaMom said...

I am prepared to homeschool my kids in math only with WAVA text books, which are excellent. All I need is to complete paperwork with SPS agreeing on my part-time homeschool plan. If SPS won't agree, I will be compelled to teach my kids the math they'll need - at home, after school hours. However, I would rather that SPS select PH than be forced to homeschool for math by a SPS selection of Key Curriculum texts.

dan dempsey said...

Dear MagnoliaMom,

Hopefully the School Directors are figuring out that NSF funded curricula are seriously lacking.

At the Board work session on HS school math on 3-25-09, it is reported that after the Administration's pitch and a lot of discussion a previously silent Harium Martin-Morris said:

I've looked at all the books carefully. The Prentice Hall books have clear examples. I can read them. I can understand them. The books you are recommending I don't get it.

It is definitely time for you and others to write to the school directors expressing your disatisfaction with the selection of the "Discovering Series".

If you wish to testify on Wed April 8th. Call 206-252-0040 at 8 AM sharp on Monday April 6th to get one of the 20 testimony slots.

MagnoliaMom said...

Thank you for this blog! I did write letters to the school board directors and told friends about what is happening, and they are writing letters, too. I may be able to attend April 8, also.

Kathleen Jalalpour said...

For those interested in learning more about the approach used in Singapore Math, The Pi Project is offering a workshop in Seattle on Aug. 14. See http://the-pi-project.com/html/pp_calendar.html for details.